Bengal'sLeft Front government has decided to reserve 15 per cent funds for the welfare projects of all important state departments for Muslims in its next financial plan outlay beginning on April 1, 2007. According to 2001 census report, the Muslims occupy 27 per cent of Bengal'spopulation. This was announced in a notification issued by the state minority development and welfare department on November 21. The decision comes in the wake of the Prime Minister'srevised 15-point programme for the welfare of the minority community. The state government notification has asked eight important departments to allocate 15 per cent of their budget proposals under plan head for taking up schemes for the welfare of Muslims. The departments are: finance, panchayats, urban development, municipal affairs, women and children development, school and technical education and disaster management.
The notification has asked the departments to identify the beneficiaries of their various schemes under the revised 15-point programme in such a way that the stipulated target percentage and outlay for the Muslims are maintained.
Buddhadeb under fire for capitalist policies
Indian Marxist economist, Prabhat Patnaik'sarticle in the CPI(M)'sPeople'sDemocracy (November 12) created a stir among the Left intellectuals in Kolkata. Patnaik has stressed that the Left should take industrial development route that has to be different from other bourgeois parties in the country. Patnaik in his article said, ?When a proletarian party finds itself in a position that it has to build capitalism, the way it goes about must be different from the way bourgeois parties build capitalism. The Left party'sfailing to maintain the difference is a departure from Leninism?. The article has come in handy for those in the party who are unhappy with Buddha'sreform path, such as, raising the limit of urban land ceiling, acquiring multi-crop land in Singur and taking a development route that prescribed by global financial institutions of capitalist west. Bengal CPI(M) leaders can hardly ignore Patnaik'sarticle because of the author'sMarxist credentials. The controversy on land acquisition for industry is a case in point. ?The Bengal government needs agricultural land for industry and so the ruling Marxist party needs a new land reform path?, says the CPI(M) industries minister, Nirupam Sen. Exactly the same view had been expressed by the representatives of the World Bank at the Bangkok meet in September. The World Bank asked the ruling government in the Third World countries to adopt land reform laws aiming at removing regulatory constraints on land use and management to help improve conditions befitting with global market economy. The Left leaders, except the CPI(M), in Bengal fear that such market-oriented reforms would go against the very purpose of the Left Front government'sland movement and alienate farmers from the Left parties in rural Bengal. In fact, the Left Front partners, other than the CPI(M), at a meeting in Kolkata on November 24 have opposed tabling of the West Bengal Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2006 in the state Assembly and forced the government to send the Bill to the Select Committee for further scrutiny. The proposed amendment Bill seeks to raise the existing land ceiling on agricultural land. The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government wants to raise the current ceiling to distribute chunks of multi-crop land to promoters of commercial activities. The controversial amendment Bill was due to be tabled in the Assembly on November 27. (VSK)